Thursday, March 31, 2016

SOLSC #31 - City Wildlife

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!

City Wildlife

While I do live in the Denver Metro Area, I always keep my senses ready to pick up on signs of wildlife. I grew up in the mountains and I have journals filled with entries that amount to lists of the animals I saw that day, consisting mostly of elk, deer. coyotes, hawks, etc, including details numbers of each and occasionally behaviors. While I don't keep a journal like that any more, below are some of the animals I've seen at my house or in the area. Each sighting is a special slice of my day and I cherish any reconnection to nature.

There are red tailed hawks nesting, again, in the tree two houses down from my backyard. They swoop through the neighborhood after small animals, birds and I worry about my cats and chickens.

Great horned owls nest and live year round in the wetlands half a mile down the street. Some years we find their nest and get to watch the owlets go form puffballs to adult-sized clumsy branchings. Some days, we can get them hooting and their cries are like morning doves but somehow completely different.

Mice skitter away from the chicken coop when I close it up at night. They have occasionally found their way inside where my older cats are too lazy to actually catch them and they must be caught other ways.

Twice, I've seen bald eagles fly by my house and it's not uncommon for me to see them flying overhead on my way to work in the winter. They hang out at Cherry Creek Reservoir where there is usually open water and fishing is possible.

Deer have crossed the campus at school several times during the winter and we've been lucky enough to see them or their tracks.

Coyotes live at the wetlands near my house and near my school. I always watch for their lanky profiles and alert posture.

There are cottontail rabbits everywhere and I am using them to teach my five year-old daughter how to stalk animals. She's gotten within five feet a couple of times before bolting away in sprint snap hops.

I have glimpsed several red foxes crossing streets while driving home, usually in the snow, at night, and coming back from a performance downtown.

Hawks seems to be everywhere as well and the Swanson's hawks are especially prolific and have migrated back north already. They sit like sentinels on lamp posts and once it warms up, I often see them carrying snakes, hanging limply in their talons.

Connecting to nature is important for me and while I live in the city now, I'm always thrilled for my moments with wildlife.






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SOLSC #30 - Final Approach

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!


Final Approach

The passengers wobble in unison as the cabin is buffeted by turbulence. The baby a few seats up is crying, the red "Fasten Seat Belts" lights are red glows, getting increasingly smaller and unreadable the farther forward they are. White nothing surrounds us as we defend through the snow clouds into Denver. It's been several minutes and while I can feel the occasional turn of the plane, there is nothing to orient myself and I have a moment where I hope the instruments in the cockpit are working. I know it's silly but I always have to fight with the anxious part of my imagination, that can  create millions of scenarios, on take-offs and landings. And when the weather is bad, mountains or other planes or missed runways spark the neurons in my brain.

I lean over to look out the window and see fleeting glimpses of dry fields with lines of snow drifts left over from last week's blizzard. The sight of the ground makes me feel better and I know we will be on the ground in a couple of minutes. I hold my wife and daughter's hands, give and receive smiles and wait for the bump of the wheels on the ground.








Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SOLSC #29 - "Uh, Dad?"

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!

"Uh, Dad?" 

I open the door to the car and begin to slide in as my daughter opens the rear door next to me. Just as I hear her say, "Uh, Dad?" I realize something is off. As I sit in the seat, everything seems a little unfamiliar. We do have a rental car but things seem unfamiliar compared to even that. There are several CDs in the door pocket, the steering wheel seems different, and the seat under me is not quite a stiff as the Hyundai we've been driving.

"Dad! We're in the wrong car!"

Thank goodness for children! They snap reality into place quickly when adults are lost in their own world; thinking about how to drive "home" in an unfamiliar town and other such non-present thoughts. No wonder things seemed weird.

Guiltily I extricate myself from the car, make sure "Clara's" door is closed too and circle to the car in the next space. I am sure it is ours but I push the key fob to get the reassuring "Beep" before opening the door and sliding into the, somewhat familiar, seat of the rental.

"You're silly Daddy," comes from the back seat as I fumble, trying to put the key into the push button starter while I think about how to get back "home."

Monday, March 28, 2016

SOLSC #28 - One Layer Short

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!

One Layer Short

The cold is penetrating, pervasive, invasive. My fingers, usually a factory of heat used to warm my wife or daughter's hands, feel icy on my neck as they seek heat. My legs and back are cold and the tops of my toes are like popsicles. The rain outside is steady and the mercury holds at a dreary 39 degrees. The East Coast humidity makes all temperatures...more. I miss the dry cold of Colorado that while chilling, does not lay upon me like a wet blanket. I'm one layer short.

I looked at the forecast a few days ago and compared the temperatures on the same scale, forgetting to factor in the humidity. The zipper busted on my favorite blue fleece, the one I plan all other layers around. It's the article of clothing heavy enough to shovel in and light enough to put on for just a chilly breeze. But now it's getting repaired, my normal calibrations are off and my fingers are cold.

I'm one layer short.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

SOLSC #27 - Selfie with my Grandma

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!

Selfie with my Grandma

Easter Brunch at the 'old folks home' is busy but everyone had headed to the buffet to get food and I was alone with my ninety-four year old grandmother. The nervous and loud energy of my aunt and uncle and the tireless energy of my daughter and wife were muted in the other room. I so rarely get real moments with my grandmother that I knew I had to jump in while I could.

Grabbing my phone, I zipped around the table and said, "Can I take a picture of the two of us?"

"Oh yes!" she exclaimed and I saw her joy as our smiles showed up on the screen in front of us. I clicked a few selfies and soon we were choosing the best one, my grandmother thrilled with how quickly we could see the results and of some of the other pictures from earlier in the day.

"I wish I could hold these in my hand." I assured her we would get them printed off for her in the next couple of days. I know I will make double copies of this one because I'm very aware that we have only so many slices of life left to share together.






Saturday, March 26, 2016

SOLSC #26 - Out The Window

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!

Out The Window

"Look Dad!"

I lean over my daughter's shoulder and peer through the tiny window that is streaked with deicing fluid and precipitation from our climb through the clouds. Far below, the clouds are a puffy layer while the sun shine above from a bluebird sky.

"The clouds look like cotton candy!"

I remember saying the same thing to my brother when we used to vie for position to look out of our portals in the sky. We would wonder why some farmer's field were round, some square and others semicircles. We'd use the maps in the airline magazines and try to figure out if the body of water below was one of the Great Lakes or just a big lake.

Today I pulled out my phone and showed her the map that came up on the airline app. "Look. We are almost to Iowa where your friend Adelaide lives! Should we wave?"

Of course we do. And we have a wonderful flight looking out the window at the clouds, the shapes of the fields and looking for the Great Lakes on our way to Boston!








Thursday, March 24, 2016

SOLSC #25 - Ten Things Right Now

To read my students' posts on the
Classroom SOL challenge click here
 

Introduction: Hello and welcome to my blog! This is the third year I have participated in the SOLSC and also the third year for my students as well! I teach students, ages 11-14, in a multi-age classroom at The Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, CO. This year, I am hosting students from all three middle school classes and they are participating on a volunteer basis (with a few prizes thrown in for inspiration). I'm looking forward to being part of this amazing community again!


This post is inspired by a "Be inspired" post from the SOLSC in 2014. Here is the link to the blog my post was inspired by.


Ten Things Right Now

1. My daughter was cold so she cuddled up on my chest and fell asleep after her story. It was magical on the day she was born and still is now that she's big at 5 3/4.

2. My bracket is busted but so is everyone else's so I might have a chance because my overall winner is still in it. I'm glad I didn't put in the $10 and and just filled it out to participate.

3. I can hear my cat snoring while ruled up on the blanket on the other couch. Can a cat have a deviated septum?

4. I got a haircut and wonder who will be the first to notice. It was not my wife or daughter this afternoon. Maybe I didn't wait long enough to get it cut and it doesn't look that different? But it felt kinda shaggy to me.

5. The snow outside is even more heavy and wet than when twenty-five inches fell during a twelve-hour period yesterday. The sun was out today, drying the shoveled sidewalks and plowed streets. Water ran deep, slushy and brown in the gutters.

6. We had two snow days in a row! Last time that happened for me was 1993, when I was a senior in high school in the mountains west of Denver. Forty inches fell over a couple of days and the skiing was amazing! Too unsafe to get to school but everyone made it to the ski areas! Actually, it took three days for the school bus turn-arounds to get plowed so that's why we got three days instead of just one.

7. It has been harder to inspire myself this SOLSC Challenge. I think it's that I am using my time for to her things and it takes real time to write everyday and like what I create.

8. The dishes in the sink still need to be washed and the chicken coop closed before I head to bed. Plus, my wife just emerged from the basement with a basket of clothes that need to be put away. Chores. Sigh.

9. Tomorrow is the last day before spring break and the first after two snow days. Who will have started break early by being gone physically or mentally? Will they get the work done they need so they can go into break homework and worry-free?

10. I am ready for bed, break and a snack. Probably not in that order.